Gänserndorf in Lower Austria
Safari-Park & Access to the Marchfeld
Gänserndorf is a community with approximately 10,000 residents. Gänserndorf can be found east of Vienna, in the plain of the Marchfeld. It is a county town (Bezirkshauptstadt), which makes it a significant educational, economic and administrative centre for the area. Like many towns in this region of Austria, Gänserndorf has the bad taste of a suburb; with the exception of the more historical centre of the town, most residential parts of Gänserndorf provide living space for commuters. Especially since the 1990ies, Gänserndorf has also developed a reputation as a shopping destination (another reason for avoiding it, in my humble opinion).
Within Austria, Gänserndorf is synonymously used for the wildlife and safari park that could be found here until 2004. In this Safaripark, you could dive into the fauna of Africa - until the company went bust and closed for visitors, whilst many animals were still keps (for example, former research chimpanzees). As of 2009, the safari park is supposed to re-open soon, but details keep being postponed.
International tourists rarely make it to Gänserndorf; for those who do go to the town, Gänserndorf offers good access to the Weinviertel district, the National Park Donauauen and the various sights of the Marchfeld. A rather recent development around Gänserndorf and most of the Marchfeld is the construction of wind power plants – the spinning, white wheels can be seen from far by essentially everyone travelling anywhere between Vienna and Bratislava.
Gänserndorf claims to be the "town of the pillars"; whatever that might mean. There are gates that incorporate pillars, historical ones as much as tacky modern ones: The Schönkirchener Tor, the Safaripark Tor, the Prottesser Tor. Beyond that, there are also several pieces of artwork that can be found all over the town. Apart from the previously mentioned town centre with the obligatory trinity of Austrian historic-small-town attractions (Rathaus City Hall, parish church, market square with town houses), Gänserndorf has little to offer. The whole point of suburbia is to be in a convenient distance to Vienna, so that you can spend your professional and most of your social life in the city. Unfortunately, this does not have an overly good effect on Gänserndorf itself.
History of Gänserndorf in Lower Austria
The history of Gänserndorf is as turbulent as the history of the entire Marchfeld plain. It can be summarised as such: Important trade routes during Celtic and Roman times, later withdrawal of Celto-Romanic population, economic decline, re-population through Slavonic tribes, centuries of alternating war and peace and dozens of armies marching through (among many others, the Turks, Hungarians, Bohemians, Russians, French, various Imperial Habsburg armies, tribes of bandits and more tribes of bandits have made their appearance).
This led to strong limitations on the potential of Gänserndorf′s development. Only after the Napoleonic Wars were over and the Vienna Congress had brought stability into the region, Gänserndorf could prosper. In the second half of the 19th century, the town finally grew to significance. This was due to the Nordbahn railway, which linked Gänserndorf with Vienna since 1838. In 1853, Gänserndorf became a market town; more than a century later, in 1958, the market town was elevated to the rank of a city.